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Managing the boundary of an 'open' project

Author

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  • O'Mahoney, Siobhán

    (Harvard University)

  • Ferraro, Fabrizio

    () (IESE Business School)

Abstract

In the past ten years, the boundaries between public and open science and commercial research efforts have become more porous. Scholars have thus more critically examined ways in which these two institutional regimes intersect. Large open source software projects have also attracted commercial collaborators and now struggle to develop code in an open public environment that still protects their communal boundaries. This research applies a dynamic social network approach to understand how one community-managed software project, Debian, developed a membership process. We examine the project's face-to-face social network over a five-year period (1997-2001) to see how changes in the social structure affected the evolution of membership mechanisms and the determination of gatekeepers. While the amount and importance of a contributor's work increased the probability that a contributor would become a gatekeeper, those more central in the social network were more likely to become gatekeepers and influence the membership process. A greater understanding of the mechanisms open projects use to manage their boundaries has critical implications for research and knowledge-producing communities operating in pluralistic, open and distributed environments.

Suggested Citation

  • O'Mahoney, Siobhán & Ferraro, Fabrizio, 2004. "Managing the boundary of an 'open' project," IESE Research Papers D/537, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0537
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    File URL: http://www.iese.edu/research/pdfs/DI-0537-E.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J.H. Schröder, 2005. "The Impact of Entry and Competition by Open Source Software on Innovation Activity," Industrial Organization 0512001, EconWPA.

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    Keywords

    open source software; social networks; organizational design; institutional design;

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